I LOVE to take photographs and nearly always have a camera with me wherever I go. Like many photographers, pulling off the side of the road to quickly snap a shot is second nature. Just like everyone else who enjoys photography, I often plan visits, trips, outings, and even back road drives through the country-side around potential photographs.
Lately, however, I have instituted a “No photography allowed” personal policy in one very important scenario…during my grandchildren’s school programs or any of their special events.
For many years I had packed my gear and attempted to photograph their various school productions and sporting events. I’m sure I would annoy those seated around me as I would jockey for a good position from which to photograph. I would fire off hundreds of frames hoping for just the perfect capture that would show one of the grandsons cheerfully singing that cute song or my granddaughter with the precious smile on her face while doing the clever actions with her hands. Or worse yet, I would get up from my seat and move front and center, probably blocking the view of many of the other guests, in an attempt to get a shot. At least I wasn’t holding up a cell phone or iPad during the entire performance, blocking the view of others, in an attempt to record the entire production.
When I would get home I rarely had any stellar shots and, more importantly, I had missed the whole point of the performance – enjoying my grandchildren perform in a school program!
For those who have children involved in school or sporting events, I propose the following suggestions:
1) Take pictures before or after the event. Take those scrapbook and Facebook images – you know the ones – of the costumes, the scenery, the class mates, the child with the teacher, etc. They will probably be better quality images and will serve quite nicely as a memory of the event.
2) Encourage the school or group to provide ONE photographer to record/document the event with the offer to parents to purchase photos later.
3) Get to the event early enough that you can secure a good vantage point, set up a tripod without blocking the view of others, and let a video camera automatically record the entire event, enabling you the opportunity to sit back and just enjoy the action.
It has taken me a few years but I have arrived at the conclusion that, just as in life, balance in one’s photography is important. Yes it is important to document events, programs, and activities in the life of one’s family…no doubt about it! However, I also think it extremely important to remember to enjoy those important life events by being mentally and physically present in the moment.